Dramatic moves


POSTED: Thursday, April 23, 2009

Although Cherry Blossom Cabaret is sometimes described as a “;burlesque troupe,”; the group's current show, “;Varietease: Feast of the Gods,”; emphasizes theatrics and dramatic dance rather than the quaint routines of the old-time “;strip tease”; acts that were hot stuff in the 1930s and '40s. Two CBC members—Lola Love and Kitty Chow—end their solo numbers wearing G-strings, heels and pasties, but comedy and characterization predominate.





        » Where: Loft Gallery & Lounge, 115 N. Hotel St.

» When: 10 p.m. April 25


» Cost: $15


» Call: 521-8008




Miss Catwings catches the eye and tugs on the heartstrings as an indomitably cheerful but tragically clumsy showgirl and dancer in “;Seasons of a Party Bird.”; She dances beautifully in a red bird costume but then stumbles and falls. Down for a moment, she rises like a phoenix to dance again. The number goes on through several death-and-rebirth cycles for what seems like a long time, but Miss Catwings' expressive acting keeps it interesting.

Violetta Baretta gets an assist from Mishy Le Fleur in a Chinese-themed number that begins as a spoof of Chinese lion dances and evolves into Baretta's snappy and seductive solo rendition of “;Fan Tan Fannie,”; Nancy Kwan's hot floor show number from the original version of “;Flower Drum Song.”; Baretta ends up wearing slightly less than Kwan did in the film but still keeps the number G-rated.

Baretta returns to close the show with a second stellar number, “;Kali, the Beautiful Destroyer.”; It is a dramatic representation of the Indian goddess that she performs in an elaborate costume that includes a lei of skulls and four additional arms.

Guest performer Morrigan Von Sin demonstrates eye-catching flexibility as a postmodern belly dancer in “;Ereshkigal: Lady of the Underworld.”; She'd be a show-stopper in any context, but her costume—goth-style black vinyl and latex rather than traditional belly dance garb—adds to the impact of her performance.

Double-entendres were popular in old-time burlesque house revues, and Kitty Chow pays homage to that tradition when she opens the second act with a vocal number, “;Chocolate Jesus.”; There's no dancing, and Chow sings without removing a thing, but the risque comic song was a big hit with a preview audience last week.

The show is hosted—burlesque house style—by bumbling, bickering brothers Ludicrous (Tyler Tanabe) and Emeritus (Thomas McCurdy), globetrotting entrepreneurs who present the “;treasures”; they find while touring the world. The “;treasures”; premise works best when setting up Lola Love's peacock feather fan dance, “;Eyes on Me,”; and Kitty Chow's big dance number, “;Pearls of Wisdom.”;

Love's crisply executed number pays homage to the old-time burlesque house fan dancers of the era when “;strip tease”; was mostly “;tease,”; while Chow represents the slightly more open '50s and early-'60s style. Both leave the audience wanting to see more.

The emcees' dialogue includes local references (Emeritus went to Punahou, Ludicrous to Kaimuki) and a smattering of G-rated double-entendres. There is also a subplot about a cursed mask that eventually is put in Pandora's Box for safekeeping.